WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama’s orders to change some U.S. surveillance practices put the burden on Congress to deal with a national security controversy that has alarmed Americans and outraged foreign allies. Yet he avoided major action on the practice of sweeping up billions of phone, email and text messages from across the globe.
In a speech at the Justice Department on Friday, Obama said he was placing new limits on the way intelligence officials access phone records from hundreds of millions of Americans—and was moving toward eventually stripping the massive data collection from the government’s hands.
His promises to end government storage of its collection of data on Americans’ telephone calls—and require judicial review to examine the data—were met with skepticism from privacy advocates and some lawmakers.
But Obama has made it nearly impossible for reluctant leaders in Congress to avoid making some changes in the U.S. phone surveillance they have supported for years.